Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dec 4-5 >> Jobs for All National Tour Comes to Ohio


U.S. Congressman John Conyers is coming to Ohio in conjunction with the Jobs for All National 2015/16 Tour.  The Town Hall meetings will feature testimony on the impact of long-term unemployment and poverty on the Dayton community.  There will be presentations on job creation, health care, raising the minimum wage, and other important issues. The primary goal is to elevate the jobs issue to national prominence.

Rep. Conyers is the Dean of the U.S. Congress, and the first African American to serve in this capacity.  He represents the Detroit, Michigan area and has been a strong voice for progressive ideas including job creation with his introduction of HR 1000 and healthcare with HR 676. He is also co-chair of the Full Employment Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives.

 There are currently two meetings planned in Ohio:

Columbus, OH  -- Friday, December 4, 2015 at 6:00 PM 

Gathering at 6 pm, Program at 6:45 pm 
Trinity Baptist Church 
461 Saint Clair Avenue Columbus, Ohio 43203 

Dayton, OH -- Saturday, December 5, 2015 at 10 am

UTS Center for Urban Ministry 
1516 Salem Ave. 
Dayton, OH 45406

 Flyers are posted below.

 For more information, contact:  Logan Martinez, Outreach Coordinator, The National Jobs for All Coalition / Jobs for All Network,  / , (937) 260-2591, loganmartinez2u [at] yahoo [dot] com




Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Clergy group in Ohio pushing federal jobs bill

Cross posted from:

By The Columbus Dispatch  •  

A new local coalition of jobs advocates, unions and clergy members will host a congressman from Detroit who is the sponsor of bills to create jobs and provide universal health care.
The group will hold a town-hall meeting with U.S. Rep John Conyers on Dec. 4 at Trinity Baptist Church on the Near East Side as part of a National Jobs for All Coalition tour. The event will include testimony on long-term unemployment and a discussion panel.
Among the group’s goals is raising awareness about unemployment and under-employment among African-Americans, Hispanics and youth in Columbus, said the Rev. Joel King, vice president of the Ohio Interdenominational Ministers Alliance, which represents about 60 clergy members.
Beyond that, he said, he hopes residents will be encouraged to get involved in the issue, by asking elected officials to support Conyers’ bills.
“We feel like millions of people are being left behind in the American dream,” said Logan Martinez, Jobs for All outreach coordinator.
“They’re working extremely hard and unable to make ends meet or working hard and there are holes in the safety net.
“There’s great disparity in what we pretend to say people can do here and what people can actually do.”
Conyers’ jobs bill, introduced by the Democrat in February, would create a tax on certain financial transactions, to fund workforce-investment programs and to make job-creation grants to states, local governments, schools, nonprofit organizations and Indian tribes. It is referred to as the Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act.
The health-care bill, referred to as the Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act, also was introduced in February and would establish a single-payer health-care system to provide free necessary health care to everyone living in the United States.
Both bills had died in previous congressional sessions before being reintroduced this year.
The U.S. unemployment level of 5 percent represents nearly 8 million Americans. On top of that, millions more work only part time or have given up looking for jobs, Martinez said.
In Columbus, pockets of the city suffer significantly higher unemployment. According to 2009-2013 Census Bureau data analyzed by the nonprofit Community Research Partners, that was true in 17 of the city’s 28 ZIP codes, with Franklinton at the top with a 29 percent unemployment rate. The poverty rate is at least 26 percent in 15 of the city’s ZIP codes, with Weinland Park at the top with a poverty rate of nearly 60 percent.
About a dozen groups have signed on to support the town-hall event, Martinez said.
Among them is Jobs for Columbus, an initiative aimed at increasing the city income tax to provide local transitional jobs.
The proposal would increase the city income tax by half a percentage point, in an attempt to raise $120 million annually dedicated to job training and creation, said Elicia Finnell, founder of the initiative.
She said the money would pay minimum wage for thousands of Columbus residents hired by participating businesses and other locations. In return, employers would provide job experience and training in marketable skills.
“It would be sort of a job safety net, that anyone who needed immediate employment could get one of these jobs — sort of a survival job,” Finnell said.
The program, she said, could help the homeless, the chronically unemployed, people with criminal records, unemployed youth and unemployed men with child-support obligations.
A goal is to place the initiative before voters in November 2016, Finnell said, but efforts are in the early stages. The campaign is creating a petition that it hopes to circulate to gain the signatures needed to get a shot at the ballot.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Social Security at 80: Expanded But Still Missing the Keystone

cross-posted from Huffington Post >>

Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg Headshot

Eighty years ago, on August 14, 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, famously declaring: "If the Senate and House of Representatives had done nothing more... than pass this Bill, the session would be regarded as historic for all time." Nonetheless, Roosevelt acknowledged that this groundbreaking Act was "a cornerstone in a structure... by no means complete."

Initially, the Social Security structure was indeed incomplete. Only a portion of the workforce was covered by the retirement and unemployment insurance programs. Left out were employees in very small establishments and the public sector as well as self-employed workers. Also excluded were domestic workers -- largely women, and agricultural laborers, an occupation employing the vast majority of African Americans.

Since FDR laid the cornerstone, Old Age Insurance has expanded almost beyond recognition. Within four years it began covering widows and orphans, transforming Social Security into a family program. In 1950, Congress added coverage for domestic and agricultural laborers. An additional, grave risk -- disability -- was added later in the fifties, and Medicare, in the mid-1960s. In 1972, automatic cost-of-living increases began protecting retirement benefits against the risk of inflation.

Retirement benefits have increased in adequacy but are often too low, particularly for one-third of seniors whose principal income is social security -- a proportion increasing with the decline in private pensions.

Unemployment Insurance has been less expandable, but excluded groups were covered in 1970 when Congress also enacted automatic extension of weeks of coverage during recessions. While Old Age and Survivors' Insurance is almost universal, most jobless workers are still not eligible for Unemployment Insurance in ordinary times, although the proportion increases during recessions when so many more people are laid off.

But what is social security without a job?

That was the keystone, according to the report of the Cabinet-level Committee on Economic Security that planned the Social Security Act: "Since most people must live by work, the first objective in a program of economic security must be maximum employment." Headed by the first female Cabinet member, Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, the Committee proposed "employment assurance" -- "that the federal government should stimulate private employment and provide employment for those able-bodied workers whom industry cannot employ." They observed that public-work programs are most necessary in periods of severe depression, but may also be needed in normal times.

Except for short-term unemployment, both Roosevelt and Federal Relief Administrator Harry Hopkins, preferred work to cash benefits. They considered a permanent government employment program for those still jobless after receiving short-term unemployment compensation, but the two elements were split into permanent but short Unemployment Insurance (only 16 weeks originally), and a temporary employment program, the famous Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA literally changed the face of this nation, vastly enriching our physical, social, and cultural resources, but it was terminated during World War II when full employment made such job creation temporarily unnecessary.

Thus, as Perkins wrote in the mid-1940s, "Unemployment Insurance stands alone as the only protection for people out of work."

What would Roosevelt, Hopkins, and Perkins have said when, during the Great Recession, many jobless workers collected extended unemployment benefits instead of being paid for work that would have benefitted not only them but all of us -- by repairing our decaying infrastructure, making our economy and the planet more sustainable, and providing sorely needed services.
Unemployment continues to undermine economic security and is neither short-term nor confined to deep economic downturns. Today, six years after the official end of the Great Recession, 20 million people are either jobless or forced to work part-time. The labor-force participation rate or proportion of working-age people either working or actively looking for work is the lowest since 1976. If it were the same as before the recession, the unemployment rate would be 7.3 percent, instead of 5.3 percent. Periods of unemployment, moreover, reduce workers' retirement benefits and rob the Social Security Trust Funds of revenues.

Enactment of pending legislation would come close to completing the Social Security edifice.

The Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment & Training Act, introduced by Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) commits the U.S. to full employment, the assurance of useful work at a living wage for all.  Paid for by a small tax on financial transactions, HR 1000 would create millions of new jobs in construction, infrastructure repair, energy and conservation, education, health care, human services, and neighborhood renovation. Such jobs could be targeted to neighborhoods like West Baltimore, where most adults are jobless.

Other pending legislation like Rep. Marcy Kaptur's (D-OH) 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps would create jobs and give the public a taste of how government job creation could preserve the nation's resources.

Let's observe Social Security's 80th birthday by taking steps toward employment assurance -- what its planners considered the keystone of economic security. Let's make their support of employment assurance a test of whether candidates for federal office in 2016 deserve our votes.